5 Tips for Getting Started in a Software Development Career

Are you looking for a change?

Millions of Americans have said yes over the past year, so many that the job exodus has been given a textbook-ready name: The Great Resignation. For many people, quitting was a step towards a career change, and many ended up with higher incomes as a result.

The technology is attractive for several reasons. With enough motivation, most people can earn a certificate or graduate from a software development bootcamp in just a few weeks or months. it pays well; and many jobs allow remote or hybrid working, which is increasingly becoming a priority for workers.

Over the years, Technically had conversations with countless technologists in our five markets about their technology journeys, many of whom came to technology from different industries.

Here are five tips from our archives for people considering changing industries:

From finance to software development

Finance, in many ways, has become a technology industry in itself. But when Dawn wagessenior research developer at The Wharton School in Philadelphia, working in finance and sales out of college, she put her degree in business administration to good use. At the time, she had forgotten how much she loved web development in high school, especially customizing Myspace pages.

Dawn wages. (Photo via LinkedIn)

(Yes, if you spent your youth perfecting your personal Myspace page or Tumblr blog, you already know basic coding.)

In 2015, Wages joined the Philly Python User Group and fell in love with technology again, eventually leading her to her work at Wharton as a research developer, community organizer for tech meetup groups, and a supporter of growing black engineers.

What kind of code should you learn if you hope to progress to a tech job?

“I can build a website with vanilla JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and Python and produce a very modern and useful experience that the business can update on their own,” Wages said in an October 2021 Slack interview. She is also passionate about Yellow Wagtail and Python.

From meteorology to software development

wayne mackenzie has been a self-proclaimed “weather nerd” since fourth grade. He went on to study meteorology and eventually worked as a local weekend TV weatherman in Alabama while in graduate school.

Meteorology and software engineering may seem like very different industries, but, as MacKenzie said in a Technical.ly guest post he wrote in March 2021, meteorologists are basically software engineers — “just terrible software engineers”.

Wayne MacKenzie. (Courtesy picture)

He got into meteorological research, where coding is used to create algorithms for meteorological applications.

“To give an example of how bad a coder I was: I handed my code over to software engineers, and they received a segmentation fault when it ran on their computers. The problem was that it was using all their memory. My response: “Get a machine with more RAM!”

Today, MacKenzie is the technology transfer program manager for the The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationafter working as a technologist for startups Planet Labs and Intrepid in Baltimore.

“One of the most empowering things I learned at Fearless was empathy and how to empathize with users, customers, and teammates,” he said. “It’s the act of listening and trying to understand someone else’s point of view through their lens. It can be difficult to practice, but the rewards are endless. It literally ends with a truly human-centric solution that meets people’s needs.

Military software development

At the age of 18, Denis Paskel registered at the The American army and worked as a military police officer from 2006 to 2008, a position that introduced him to the world before returning to Philadelphia.

He earned a law enforcement degree from Temple and worked in a variety of jobs, from Comcast sales to parole officer to bank teller before enrolling in coding bootcamp. Technical lift and dive into technology.

Dennis Paskel. (Courtesy picture)

“I’ve always been interested in technology,” Paskel said in a Veterans Day 2021 interview on Technical.ly’s public Slack. “I started assembling and repairing computers when I was 12 years old. I spent four years in computer programs at a vocational technology school while in high school. The fear of the unknown is what has kept me from making a career out of it all these years.

Don’t hold back if you want a career in tech, said Paskel, now an applications engineer at Avant-garde.

“My worry about not pursuing a career in tech earlier was fear that jobs would be outsourced and I would be laid off or not have a stable career,” he said. “There are things in life that are good risks, and sometimes we have to take a leap of faith and believe in ourselves. It’s the only way to reach our full potential.

“Above all, it’s never too late to change course in life. As a probation and parole officer for five years, I have seen people from all walks of life and of all ages change their lives for the better. If they could do it, surely any of us could [be] change careers and pursue what makes us truly happy and fulfilled.

From real estate to software development

Jocelyne Jeriah worked in several different industries before becoming a developer, including real estate, logistics and quality assurance. After spending a year in her native Bolivia helping her sick mother and working as a property manager, she returned to the United States ready to embark on a career in technology. She graduated from tech bootcamp Coding Dojoand landed a job as an implementation engineer at the Adams Morgan-based AI startup Wizard in DC.

Jocelyn Jeriah. (Courtesy picture)

Jeriah has used tools readily available to people wanting to turn to technology, including social media, dating groups and job fairs, in addition to Coding Dojo, which uses platforms such as Zoom and Discord. in its programming.

“I was networking a lot, even online, even through LinkedIn,” Jeriah said in a February 2021 interview. “Through that, I got an advance for a bunch of virtual job fairs. These virtual job fairs are kind of like speed dating where you can talk to a group of companies for a few minutes.

Jeriah actually landed her current role at Sorcero, where she runs a language intelligence platform, after attending one of those many virtual job fairs.

Blogging to software development

Laurie Barta DC-based senior software engineer with netflix, had been a software engineer before starting tech blogging in 2017. Her career has taken her from the federal government to the private sector and consulting. But blogging has given her more exposure within the industry: she now has over 35,000 followers on Twitter and video content on egg head.io.

Along with building a community both online and locally in DC came career growth as an engineer. Social media has proven important in forging deeper connections with women in tech along the way.

“I joined Twitter technology and just opened up to this much larger ecosystem,” she said in an April 2021 interview, referring to the segment of Twitter users who interact around technological subjects. The lesson here: Find your people who will mutually encourage your career growth.

Laurie Bart. (Courtesy picture)



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